Archive for the ‘contract plans’ tag
Virgin UK extends its offer by adding a flexible contract tariff that enables to tweak your offer on a monthly basis.
This week Virgin has announced that they go live with new flexible tariffs know as Freestyle. In a nutshell, customers will be able to change their tariff every month and get a new phone before their 24-month long contract ends, as long as they pay for the handset in full.
Virgin’s customers will be able to move around five tariffs priced between £10 and £25. There is no restriction for whether you move up or down, which basically means that one month you can choose the £20 tariff and then drop to the lowest one next month. In terms of what the tariffs come with, the lowest £10 tariff offers unlimited texts, 250 minutes and 250 MB of data. The next tariff is the £13 one and it has four times more minutes and twice as much data. The middle £17 tariff gives unlimited calls and texts plus 1GB of data, then for £20 you will get 2GB of data more. Finally, the highest tariff comes with unlimited calls, texts and data for £25 a month. If you already have Virgin broadband, TV or home phone, then you will get £5 off on all tariffs.
The second innovation offered by “Freestyle” tariffs is the possibility to upgrade your phone before the contract ends. However, to do so you need to pay off all the remaining balance on your mobile phone. It is possible, because essentially Virgin sells handset in “Freestyle” tariff through a credit agreement. This means you pay for your phone in monthly instalments but there is no interest rate. This monthly phone payment is added to your tariff price which together gives you the final value of your monthly bill.
You can get a wide range of phones with the “Freestyle” tariff. This includes all major state-of-the-art models like iPhone 6 and 5S/5C, the newest Samsung Galaxy S5, Sony Xperia Z3 or HTC One. However, if we take, for example, Samsung Galaxy S5 then the monthly instalment is £19, while the newest iPhones start at £29 per month. Add to this a middle-priced tariff and you can end up with a monthly payment of £36 or £46.
All in all, Virgin Media launched a nice novelty that gives contract customers some degree of flexibility, so that you don’t end up with a too high or too low tariff for the next two years. However, the option to pay off your phone doesn’t seem to too alluring, but we must admit that it creates an opportunity to take your phone on credit with zero interest rate.
Vodafone follows Three UK in their commitment to not impose price hikes during the contract, which is in line with the ruling announced by Ofcom.
Initially the response to Ofcom decision to condemn mid-term price hikes wasn’t the most positive among operators. Some of them opposed it or tried to look for some loopholes to go around it and retain the ability to increase contract tariff costs in the middle of the contract. One of the operators, however, promised to keep a fixed price during the duration of the contract and it was Three UK. Now another operator, Vodafone, decides not to impose any price hikes mid-contract.
The Red mobile provider guaranteed all their customers (not only those that joined after January 23) that the price for monthly allowance won’t be changed, so you know that you will pay the same amount of money throughout the whole length of contract. While this is great news for Vodafone’s users they should remember that the operator highlighted that it may tweak with premium, non-geographical rates as well as cost of data/texts outside the allowance. This means that as a contract customer you should be wary of any changes to rates as long as call non-standard lines or often exceed the allowance, even though Vodafone promised to inform everyone about such changes beforehand.
Vodafone UK officials explained why they made such a promise firstly by revealing that they have asked their customers how they feel about mid-contract price hikes and secondly because they want to show their transparency and fairness. In reality the reasons behind it are not as important as the result of it.
We hope that other operators will take the example of Three UK and Vodafone UK and stop increasing prices of contracts in the middle of it. Obviously such price changes may discourage people from signing a contract and drive people towards simple PAYG SIM card solutions.
Vodafone has decided to end its 4G promotion and update 4G tariffs.
Sadly we have to inform you that a 4GB deal at Vodafone is no longer valid. This was to be expected as the offer was initially planned to end in October 2013. This offer gave all their new 4G contract customers free unlimited data for the first three months and 4GB of free data in addition to their allowance in the following months. This made Vodafone’s 4G tariff a really alluring one.
However, the deal is off and Vodafone decided to review its 4G tariffs. Right now you can experience 4G speeds by choosing one of the two available types of contracts: SIM-only and a smartphone package. SIM-only tariffs start at £21 with 1GB of data and goes up to £41 for 9GB. Taking into account that its 4G so 1GB would not be enough the £26 deal for 3GB looks like the entry-level one. In case of 4G plans with smartphones the cheapest one costs £30 for 3GB and comes with a Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini or HTC One Mini (both 4G –ready). The next level is 5GB data with the same phones as above but at £35 per month. If you want to go data crazy then you may choose the highest Vodafone deal, which starts at £40 for 9GB and a free Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini or HTC One Mini.
Remember that 4G tariffs with phones are 24-month long, while SIM-only deals are 12-month long contracts. Additionally, all abovementioned tariffs come with unlimited texts and calls to all networks. Current 4G deal at Vodafone gives all their new customers first three months of unlimited data for free, so they can check out how much data they actually use on 4G.
Unfortunately, Vodafone does not support 4G services for their pay as you go SIM cards yet. Moreover, the operator did not announce or even hint on when 4G will be available for prepaid customers.
ASDA Mobile has rethought its strategy and wants to tap into mobile contracts by introducing Phone Shops at the flagship stores.
ASDA has designs on putting more attention to contract customers instead of just maintaining its traditional role of a MVNO with PAYG SIM cards. In order to do so it will take control of Phone Shops at their supermarket. These shops were previously run by group Infinite and before that by Shebang. Now the supermarket chain wants to run them by its own. The trail will take place in three shops in: Cardiff, Manchester and Birmingham. The idea is to have an outlet focused entirely on selling phones and assisting customers. Moreover, thanks to having a bricks-and-mortar store, customers will be able to sign a contract without much trouble. This is a way to benefit from the recent positive trend on the contract market. If the trial brings good results, the company will open more Phone Shops across their chain of over 500 supermarkets. An ASDA spokesman said: ‘The Asda Mobile network is now established as one the UK’s best loved PAYG networks. The contract market is a growing part of the industry which is why as Asda Mobile continues to grow this will also be an area of focus for us.’
Last year brought about some mid-contract price increases for customers of most main mobile operators in the UK. Angry customers wanted to exit contracts due to such raises, however operators argued that they cannot do it without paying penalties. Mobile operators defend their ruling claiming that according to contracts they are allowed to introduce raises that are in line with inflation. But consumers didn’t stop and instead lodged over 1,500 complaints to Ofcom about the problem of price hikes.
Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s consumer group director, said: ‘Many consumers have complained to us that they are not made aware of the potential for price rises in what they believe to be fixed contracts. ‘Ofcom is consulting on rules that we propose would give consumers a fair deal in relation to mid-contract price rises.’ As Mr. Pollack said Ofcom started a consultation with mobile operators about mid-contract price rises. Ofcom’s proposal is to allow customers to cancel contracts if a mid-contract price hike is introduced and to clearly inform them that such price hikes may occur. There are also three other options that are taken into consideration, one of which is to not change anything and leave it as it is.
Currently Ofcom is iniviting other interested parties to share their ideas and express their views on proposed options. The watchdog plans to close consultations on March 14, 2013.
O2 has informed its customers that it will increase their monthly payments by 3.2% starting from Feb 28, 2013 contract customers. Price of calls, texts and data will not be increased, which means that PAYG SIM cards will not be affected. Increase of such value means that a contract customer that now pays £20 will have to pay £20.64. Similarly, £30 contracts will be soon £30.96 ones. The mobile operator argumentation supporting this price hike is that it needs to adjust it prices to the inflation. O2 spokesperson defends this change by underlying how the competition introduced such price hikes before them and how small the increase is by saying ‘At a time when our competitors have been raising the prices of their tariffs, we’ve resisted. But as external costs continue to rise, we can’t keep our pay monthly prices at the current level. For over half of our pay monthly customers this will mean an increase on their bill of up to 58 pence per month.’
Price hikes have angered customers of all mobile operators and they were keen to express their disappointment. Nevertheless, that’s all they can do as most of contracts have a clause in Terms and Conditions that allows providers to adjust their price with the inflation mid-contract. Thus none of the customers can get out of the contract using price increase as a reason.
Ofcom has decided to address price hikes in fixed contracts after receiving a considerable amount of consumer complaints. In the last twelve months consumers have experienced mid-contract changes to mostly resulted in them paying more monthly, although, they have signed a fixed contract. People are frustrated as they thought the contracts they have signed are fixed, same as tariffs and rates they agreed on. If you use PAYG SIM cards, you know that such things may happen(even though they usually don’t), but the solution is to simply move your number to another provider. However, due to terms and conditions of most contracts, pay monthly customers cannot cancel their contracts without paying the penalty if the reason is a price hike.
Between September 2011 and May 2011, Ofcom received 1,644 complaints that pertained mid-contract terms and conditions changes. This led the watchdog to examine the issue and “find out ways to address consumer concerns and ensure they are being treated fairly”. Consumers main problem is that mobile operators are allowed to enforce price increases in the middle of contract and such changes do not allow consumers to leave contracts without penalties. Ofcom wants to investigate whether it is appropriate and check the issue of transparent price variation terms as well as the question whether consumers are properly informed about that at points of sale.
Results of Ofcom’s consultations, which will also include broadband and landline services, should be published by the end of the year. Hopefully, this will lead to some changes that will make such terms more explicit and customers will be fully aware what terms and conditions might be changed in the contracts they sign.
Orange announced a price hike for their business customers that will take place on July 10, 2012. The operator decided to charge their Orange Business customers 3.5 % more due to inflation and the rising costs. The good thing about it is that only the cost of monthly plan will be affected and call rates will be left the same.
For example, a £30 monthly plan will cost £31.05 but the cost of calls, texts and data outside their plan will stay the same. Customers were informed about this change through a letter send to them by Orange in which the company explains that they are allowed to make such an increase based on RPI figure every 12 months and the customers cannot cancel their contracts without paying termination fees. It is the second time this year that Orange decided to increase their prices as the pay monthly fees rose by 4.34% in January.